The invention of FirePASS ® is based on a discovery made during research conducted in the Hypoxic Room System manufactured by Hypoxico Inc. in New York. It was discovered that the processes of ignition and combustion in a normobaric, hypoxic environment are far different from the ignition and combustion process that occurs in a hypobaric natural altitude environment with the same partial pressure of oxygen (i.e. up at a mountain).
The growing global concern for the ecology, resulting in the worldwide ban on using the principal halogenated fire suppressants, has stimulated extensive research of new, environmentally acceptable substances. However, it has evidently been very difficult to create a chemical agent that meets all the desirable and contradictory properties.
An ideal agent naturally must be highly effective at ignition and flame suppression, yet also be environmentally friendly, stable, and non-toxic for humans during and after application.
Fire prevention and control has long dealt with the familiar fire triangle consisting of heat, fuel, and oxygen which are required to initiate and support combustion. Nitrogen, constituting 79% of atmospheric air, can significantly influence combustion. Furthermore, increasing the
nitrogen content in the gaseous mixture affects its molecular kinetic properties, reducing the availability of oxygen molecules for combustion.
Air with partial pressure of oxygen at an altitude of 9,000ft. (2700 m) can easily support the burning of a candle or the ignition of paper. However, if a corresponding normobaric environment is created with the same partial pressure of oxygen, candle will not burn and paper will not ignite. Even a matchstick will be instantly extinguished after the depletion of the oxygen-carrying chemicals on its tip.
Consequently, any fire that is introduced into this breathable normobaric, hypoxic atmosphere is instantly extinguished. Kerosene fuel, gas lighter or propane gas torch will not ignite in this environment either.
FirePASSÂ® satisfies all critically important properties, as required to Halon 1301 and alternatives, such as:
Common flammable solid materials and liquids cannot be ignited in environments with oxygen content lower than 16% at normal (sea level) barometric pressure. However, humans can easily tolerate an oxygen-reduced atmosphere with 12 - 16% O2 (instead of ambient 20.94% O2) without health hazard.
The haemoglobin will be more than 90% saturated if exposed to altitude of 3300 m. i.e 14% O2 in the normobaric hypoxic air). It should be noted that only the partial pressure of the oxygen determines haemoglobin saturation in the capillaries of alveoli. All subsequent oxygen transportation and metabolism depends exclusively upon the balance between oxygen demand and availability via the cardio-vascular system. The partial pressure of neutral diluting gases has no influence on these physiological processes at sea level conditions. In contrast, availability and reactivity of oxygen in the combustion process depends significantly upon the molecular concentrations of other, even inert, diluting gases.
The affinity of O2 to haemoglobin depends only on its partial pressure, while the kinetic of combustion depends on the proportion of oxygen in the gas mixture.
Creating such a low-oxygen (hypoxic) breathable atmosphere inside a human-occupied environment will completely prevent both ignition and combustion, thus eliminating the hazard of fires even starting.
A FirePASS ® prevention environment is established by ventilating a room with so-called hypoxic, i.e. oxygen-reduced, air. Hypoxic air is produced by partly filtering out oxygen from ambient atmospheric air, thus typically reducing the oxygen content to 15%, compared to the normal amount of 20.9%. This oxygen level corresponds to the partial pressure of oxygen at an altitude of around 2.700m (9.000ft).
No unsafe nitrogen dilution
Most importantly FirePASS doesn't use the unsafe nitrogen dilution concept offered by competition tying to circumventing our patents. Unlike safe and healthy hypoxic ventilation, nitrogen injection may cause lethal accidents and does not provide sufficient ventilation of an area to be protected.
Most common flammable solid materials and liquids cannot be ignited in environments with an oxygen level lower than 16%. However, humans easily tolerate an oxygen-reduced atmosphere of 14-16% O2 without any health hazards (instead of 20.9% O2 as in natural, ambient air).
Anybody traveling on a modern passenger airplane has experienced oxygen concentrations of around 15%. In addition, millions of residents live in altitudes of 3.500m / 11.000ft and above, such as in Leh Ladakh, Nepal etc.
Scientific research has proven that working in such hypoxic conditions does not impose any health hazards on normal healthy human beings.